WEEE Directive – The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations

Published by Stephen Roper on Tagged Politics

The amount of electrical and electronic waste that is created in the UK is growing by 5% every year. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive was put before the UK parliament on 12th December 2006 and became law on the 2nd January 2007.

The aim of the WEEE directive

The main aim of the directive is to completely minimize the amount of electrical and electronic goods and to reduce their effects on the environment. This is to be achieved by increasing the recycling, reuse and reducing the amount of WEEE going to landfill sites.

Increase in manufacturer responsibility

The WEEE directive also wants to improve the environmental performance of businesses that supply, use, recover and recycle electrical and electronic equipment. It will seek to achieve this by making distributors and producers responsible for financing the collection, treatment and recovery of waste electrical equipment by obliging distributors to allow consumers to return their waste goods free of charge.

What the WEEE regulations cover

The WEEE regulations apply to electronic and electrical equipment which falls within ten product categories as listed in the WEEE directive, these are:

  1. Large Household Items
  2. Small Household Items
  3. IT and Telecoms Equipment
  4. Lighting Equipment
  5. Consumer Equipment
  6. Electrical Tools
  7. Leisure, Sports and Toys
  8. Medical Equipment
  9. Automatic Dispensers
  10. Monitoring Equipment

Potentially dangerous parts

The directive has identified which main devices in electronic and electrical equipment are potentially dangerous. This list includes many components that can be found in mobile phones including cables, wires, plastics, printed circuit boards, displays, data storage media, light generators, capacitors, resistors, connectors and sensors.

The WEEE directive and Mobile Phones

All mobile phone networks and manufacturers now send a recycling envelope either when upgrading or buying a new handset and will accept an old phone to be returned for recycling free of charge.  Under the regulations they allow old phones to be returned via a freepost or free courier collection. Once received they must refurbish or break down old phones for parts that can be reused. All companies check theft registries so if the handset that has been returned has been stolen it will be reported and recycled.

Specialist Recycling companies such as Envirofone, Mopay, Mobile Phone Xchange, Mazuma Mobile and Fone Bank follow WEEE regulations and provide a service that benefits the consumer, the manufacturer and the environment.

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